The School of Architecture and Design (SoAD), in the Maroun Semaan Faculty of Engineering and Architecture (MSFEA) has two undergraduate programs in Architecture and Graphic Design and two graduate programs in Urban Planning and Policy and Urban Design. The Architecture program was established in 1963 and offers the professional degree of Bachelor of Architecture (BArch). The Graphic Design program was established in 1992 and offers the professional degree of Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design (BFA). The graduate programs in Urban Planning and Policy and Urban Design were established in 1998 and offer a Master of Urban Planning and Policy and a Master of Urban Design (MUPP-MUD).
Through their curricular structure, the programs' course offering and content offer students the solid training that prepares them for the challenges of the professional practice and offers them a competitive edge through the exposure to high quality academic discourse and diverse design methods within a rich studio environment and with up-to-date technology.
The design discipline is understood as a cultural practice that engages social, economic and political issues and as a critical tool of inquiry that integrates process with product and methodology with representation in a multidisciplinary manner. In other words, design teaching applies professional and technical skills within a process that is culturally and theoretically grounded.
This inquiry through design comes with an acute awareness of our existence in the Arab region with its multitude of languages and cultures. There is also an awareness of our location within Beirut, which acts a source and a subject of study in studios and research projects. The city, with its exceptional physical fabric and cultural formats, serves as a topic of study that links the undergraduate and the graduate programs and facilitates for a close interaction between them, and with the professional community. The discourse on the city is therefore intense and pluralistic, from the visual and multimedia images it generates to the physical environment it structures, through the production of buildings and built environments ranging from the neighborhood scale to the metropolis.
The curriculum is structured to ensure that students progress from basic skills and knowledge to advanced critical applications and independent thinking. It leads them from foundation courses to advanced thematic and interdisciplinary courses to an independent design thesis project. The distribution of the courses is designed to ensure both a solid training in the field and an appropriate exposure to related fields, as well as to fields of their own interest. This distribution, combined with the multiple options offered, enables students to take part in molding their own education through the selection of thematic studios, field and free electives, as well as humanities and social science courses. The target is therefore to graduate both a well-trained professional and a well-rounded independent thinker.
In sum, and in line with AUB's and MSFEA's educational objectives at large, SoAD's programs aim to:
- Train well-rounded professionals on solid technical and professional skills, so they become leaders in their profession.
- Form independent thinkers who approach design as a research-oriented activity that engages in critical analysis, and who are able to compete on an international academic level.
- Prepare socially and environmentally responsible graduates, acutely aware of their regional role in the field, through understanding design as a cultural practice.